Oh Dublin, how I love ye

This weekend I spent a comedy filled two days in Dublin in the company of some of my fellow Twitterers @shell_here , @kateweb and @simone_QoF along with Simone’s friend the lovely Karena. After getting up at the ungodly hour of 5.50am I made my way to Edinburgh airport and an uneventful flight to Dublin. Once there I managed to meet up with Simone and Karena, and with little ado we got the bus into Dublin city centre and where we met Shell who had been up even earlier than me for her flight to Ireland. After a morning of tea, wandering and meeting up with Kate (who had the option of a slightly more sensible arrival time) we headed to the Iveagh Gardens, the venue for the weekend’s ‘Carlsberg Comedy Carnival’, and the first show of the weekend.

Within the park there were 4 different venues and our first gig was in the ‘Magic Mirror Palace’; a wooden ‘Spiegeltent’ filled, as the name would suggest, with mirrors. It turns out that a mirror filled tent on a sunny day quickly takes on the temperature of a Swedish sauna, so what followed was nearly 2 hours of entertaining but slightly sweaty comedy. Australian MC Damian Clark did a good job of getting the crowd warmed up before introducing the first act ‘Country & Western star’ Wilson Dixon (alter-ego of New Zealander Jesse Griffin). Although Wilson’s guitar strumming ditties raised some laughs, it’s a slow burner that doesn’t really find anywhere to go. A fun concept that really can’t sustain interest longer than about 20 minutes, so unfortunately at nearly three quarters of an hour I was getting a little restless. After another 10 minutes from Clark, Irish if.comedy award winner David O’Doherty took to the stage with his trademark kid’s keyboard. I’ve never seen DOD before but found his songs and tales funny and entertaining – particularly his recounting of the best heckle ever; from an 8 year old boy who politely raised his hand and asked ‘Does this get good soon?’ This is one comedian I would definitely seek out in the future.

We then headed off to find our accommodation (on the University College Dublin Campus), and after a quick nap (well on my part anyway) we made our way back to the Iveagh Gardens for the next two gigs of the evening.

First up was someone I’d really been looking forward to – US YouTube sensation Bo Burnham. After 15 minutes (which was 10 minutes too long) from an MC whose name I can’t for the life of me remember, Bo came on the stage, looking a little uncomfortable, and without saying a word he sat down, picked up his guitar and launched straight into the hilarious Men and Women. I think that the slightly nervous, shuffling character Bo portrays on stage is mostly for effect – but then at just 18 years old, with jet lag and playing one of his first overseas gigs I’m pretty sure some of those nerves were real. He needn’t have worried. Bo’s combination of clever, shocking and very funny lyrics along with his talent for piano, guitar and acapella rap, haiku and even Shakespearean-esque verse went down an absolute storm with the crowd – despite a stony faced woman in the second row and one man who walked out mid-song. When Bo asked where he was going he replied ‘you’re just not very funny’ and although young Bo dealt with it well, the incident had clearly put him off his stride. There are very few comedians at the moment who can genuinely shock an audience but in a 45 minute set there were several ‘did he really just say that?’ gasps followed by loud guffaws. This is definitely someone I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future, I’m sure he’ll only get better with experience and as he doesn’t seem to have any immediate plans for a tour this side of the Atlantic any time soon I’m glad I got to see him when I did.

Bo Burnham would be a tough act for any comedian to follow so I didn’t envy Maeve Higgins, who came on after another over-long introduction from the MC. This Irish comedian’s whimsical style just didn’t have the energy that was needed to follow an act like Bo. There was nothing bad about her observational comedy but it just didn’t really go anywhere. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for us) we’d moved to the back of the venue (The Comedy Carousel) so we could duck out early in time to make it to the next gig and the laughs just weren’t making it all the way to us.

And so after joining a rather lengthy queue we headed into the Iveagh Theatre; this was the biggest venue of the weekend, a sort of solid walled tent. We managed to grab the last few seats near the front and settled in ready for the first of our Tim Minchin gigs of the weekend. All the gigs we saw had two comedians (usually one international and one Irish) and the organisers seemed to be going with putting on the Irish comedian second rather than what we would see as the obvious ‘headliner’. This meant that after a good ten minutes from MC Dermot Whelan on came Mr Minchin with his ‘angry rock’n’roll’ persona, knocking over the mic stand, kicking the speaker and spilling a very small amount of beer from a bottle. It felt like the fairly drunken crowd didin’t really know what to make of this and then without any pre-amble, apart from the usual introduction, Tim began his set with ‘Prejudice’ which went down a treat. This was followed by some rather ill-advised banter with some girls in the crowd including a rather drunken lady called Theresa (which led to some interesting comparisons from Tim given the recent changes to Ireland’s blasphemy laws) who was out without her kids for the first time in months. Unfortunately, she was one of those who having had her moment of interaction just wouldn’t shut up leading to a bit of an uncomfortable atmosphere in the crowd. Tim then moved on to ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ but due to the backing track starting incredibly loud and the inability of the sound guy to turn down the volume he actually had to stop and start again as he couldn’t hear himself or the track and nor could we. The song was well received by the audience and from this Tim moved on to the baby talky section from the Ready For This? tour. The final song of the evening was ‘Confessions’ which again went down a treat, with Tim leaving the stage entirely before the third movement. Tim’s set was enjoyable as ever but it did feel that with the slightly odd, drunken atmosphere from the audience, the technical hitches and the not altogether successful crowd interaction it could have gone better. I got to say hi to Tim briefly in the interval and despite telling him we had enjoyed it he didn’t seem to think it had gone that well either. Unfortunately, I think that can sometimes be the way of it when playing to a crowd who haven’t necessarily booked to see you specifically.

Tim was followed by Irish comedian Colin Murphy and although there were a few funny sections I think it says alot for his set that I can’t remember a great deal about it. He seemed to go down well with the local crowd but a fair amount of his set was a bit too Ireland-centric to be very funny for anyone else.

Tired after a long day we headed back to our accommodation for tea and biscuits before a well needed sleep. Our taxi driver though seemed very dissappointed that at nearly midnight on a Saturday in Dublin we were neither drunk nor had any intention of becoming so!

On Sunday morning we headed back into the city centre and had a leisurely and delicious breakfast in the delightful Bewley’s Cafe; if you’re ever in Dublin I would strongly recommend it. After some individual wandering around the city we made our way back to the Iveagh Gardens for our second, and last, Tim gig of the weekend.

This time, our early arrival meant we were at the front of the queue and as Shell had been able to pop in to say hi to Tim she had grabbed us front row seats – which couldn’t have been any nearer the stage without us sitting at the piano! There was a very different atmosphere at this afternoon gig – an audience that has only just started drinking is much friendlier than one that has been drinking all day. Sunday’s MC was diminutive Irishman Michael Mee, who seemed quite nervous in front of a reasonably large crowd. He mostly made jokes about his name and unusually for an MC there was little interaction with the audience. However, he didn’t outstay his welcome and soon introduced Mr Minchin to the stage again.

Once again Tim began with ‘Prejudice’ before moving swiftly on to ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ – this time, although the sound levels had been sort of fixed (Tim still had to gesture for the monitor to be turned down), the backing track was started before the introduction was finished. Again both songs went down really well with the audience, and there were more, and more extravagant, wiggles in ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ than I’ve ever seen before. We were so close to the stage that we were literally looking up Tim’s nose when he performed the song and the new addition of some ball scratching at the ‘neck down alopecia’ line of the song was particularly distracting! The baby talky section followed again although there had been very little banter with the crowd. The reason for this soon became clear as Tim had decided that he should challenge Ireland’s new blasphemy law (of which you can read more about here) with a rendition of ‘Ten Foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins’. Just after Tim had introduced the song with his usual ‘this is a song about anal sex and God’ and started playing, a girl in the audience got up and walked out prompting Tim to stop and let her know that it was ‘the right thing to do’ – it’s not clear if she left as she didn’t want to be offended or if she was just going to the loo as she said she was, but she didn’t come back until the song had finished when Tim commented how it was amazing that ‘one unit of blasphemy is exactly equal to one unit of urine’. I was really excited to see a song which I’ve never seen performed live before, and I wasn’t disappointed as Tim really went for it on the piano. As with the previous day the final song was ‘Confessions’ which was performed with aplomb. And as I keep trying to explain to my non-Tim fan friends, although I’ve seen these songs performed a fair few time before there is always something different that really makes me laugh. This time, Tim has added a bit where he stops playing after the line about the purpose of lipstick and not being able to look his great aunt in the eye, and just gags for what seems like ages. Again he headed right off stage after the third movement and as MC Michael Mee had never seen Tim’s act before he actually started coming on stage and Tim had to almost push him back off! ‘Confessions’ isn’t one of my favourite songs on the Ready For This? album but seeing it live really is a treat. So another excellent set from Mr Minchin, he didn’t get arrested for blasphemy and he kept me smiling for the rest of the day.

After Tim, came another Irish comedian; Des Bishop. I’d never heard of Des before but it would seem this American born comedian who was raised in Ireland is famous in his adopted country having appeared in several TV shows, most recently one in which he learnt the Irish language. I found a lot of Des’ act very funny (and it didn’t hurt that he’s really rather nice to look at) but quite a large proportion of the gags were either in Irish or related to the issue of the Irish language being taught in Ireland, and unfortunately it went straight in one ear and out the other without making any sense in between. Despite this, I still enjoyed the show and am tempted to check out Des’ Edinburgh show, which I’m presuming will be entirely in a language I understand!

And that was the end of my comedy fun – I made my way back to the airport with Kate, Simone and Karena (Shell was managing to squeeze in another gig before her later flight home), and finally got home at about 10.30pm very tired and very happy to have spent the weekend enjoying some brilliant comedy with excellent company. And now it’s less than two weeks until the start of the Edinburgh Fringe, when I get to look forward to 3 whole weeks of comedy and brilliant company!!

And finally, in other news, I fell of the chocolate wagon this weekend (although I am now at 57 days sober – which I think is possibly the longest I’ve been without alcohol since I first started drinking 15 years ago!). The weight loss is still going well though, I’ve lost a total of 19lbs so far and I’m hoping that this weekend hasn’t had too much of a detrimental effect. I now only have 7 days left to work which is pretty exciting and I’ll be starting at university in less than a month. Basically, the ongoing excitement of my life continues unabated.

If you’ve stuck with this blog this far then well done and thanks for reading. I’m going to try and blog reviews regularly throughout Edinburgh to try and avoid massive posts like this one in the future, as much to save my poor typing fingers as avoid your boredom!!

24 days and counting…

That’s it – that’s all there is. 24 days until I leave work. No more annoying colleagues, no more stupid customers, no more working for the bank that helped bring down our nations economy. I’m very excited, especially because I get the double whammy of leaving work and then the Edinburgh Fringe Festival starting the next day and 3 weeks jam packed full of comedy, and meeting lots of friends I normally only get chance to speak to on the internet.

Other than counting down the days until I get to leave work I haven’t been up to much lately – hence the lack of blogging action. My weight loss efforts are still going well – I’ve lost just over a stone in the last 5 weeks. Usually when I’m on a diet (which happens at least once a year) I seem to spend my time endlessly discussing my progress with my Mum; who has been on a ‘diet’ ver since I can remember. I decided this time that I’m doing this for me, because I want to, and that I’m not really going to talk to anyone about it because that only puts more pressure on me that I don’t need. And quite frankly I just don’t feel the need to talk about every morsel that crosses my lips. So although my Mum kind of knows I’m trying to lose weight again, she doesn’t know how I’m doing it or how much I’ve lost. I’ve not seen my Mum & Dad since Mark’s wedding in May and I probably won’t see them again until the middle of September, when hopefully I’ll have reached my goal weight. I’m going for the Extreme Makeover style ‘big reveal’ and I can’t wait to see the look on my Mum’s face!

I’m really hoping that this time I manage to change my eating habits for good. I’ve always been pretty good with the will power when I’m ‘on a diet’ (this time for instance I haven’t had any chocolate or alcohol for 40 days) but my past mistake has always been to go back to old habits of eating to much chocolate (and that really is the main culprit). It’s quite scary to think that I need to change my whole way of thinking about food – it’s so easy to get into that mindset of ‘just one won’t do any harm’ – which it won’t, if it’s just one a month, but when it turns into one a day you have a problem. My other problem is just generally eating too much. The food I eat for my meals is usually pretty healthy but I need to learn to control my portion sizes. When I’m just cooking for myself it should be easy but if I cook too much then I’ll eat too much because I can’t stand to throw things away. So the answer; cook less to begin with. Simple really!

So this time I really am determined and my early success has spurred me on. I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m going to get to my goal weight, and more importantly I’m going to stay there. I’m going to be a bridesmaid to my friend Claire but the wedding isn’t going to be at least next April so I’ll have even more motivation to manage my weight once I get to my goal. I might even post my before and after pictures when I’m done – so they’re there for all the world see then there’s no going back!

In other news – I got this t-shirt (you can get one here if you like). It’s inspired by Tim Minchin’s amazing 9 minute beat poem Storm. In case you can’t see from the picture it says ‘Isn’t THIS enough?’ which in the original poem is asking why the beautiful world we live in isn’t enough for some people and why we have to ‘diminish it with the invention of cheap man-made myths and monsters’. I like that only Tim fans will get the reference on my t-shirt and most people will just think I’ve got a huge ego and love my boobs! A point proved by a drunken man in Edinburgh shouting after me ‘No, it’s not. Come back here so we can have another look’.

The most exciting part of this story (well for me anyway) was that when I posted this picture up on Twitter, Tim actually commented on it saying ‘oh, that’s excellent x’. I know I’m supposed to be cool and not a squealing fan girl but that comment made my day.

I’m off to go and cross some more days of my calendar now….damn it, still 24 to go.